A few weeks ago now I was reading a book, and in the introduction this verse from Matthew 16 (NIV) was highlighted:
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
In the context of the subject matter surrounding it (which I will not elaborate on here), it gave me pause for thought. More so than it ever has done before. Never was it more clear to me that I didn’t know all that much about what my cross is – which in the context I interpret as a burden that separates me from God (as opposed to ‘sin’ in general) – and neither had I really considered the ‘deny themselves’ phrase much before.
The author of the text I was reading elaborated that one had to reject the WHOLE of oneself – not just part of oneself – and then turn and follow Jesus. That made me sit up too. Most of us (me included) think we’re pretty ‘good’, and that not everything we do is all that bad. Here it was being highlighted that one shouldn’t just reject the ‘bad’ parts, but the ‘good’ bits too – everything. Hmmmm.
As I sit here writing this today, I don’t feel any different to how I felt that day before I read the introduction to the book, but I know that one thing has changed. One of the other verses that is popular with Christians is Luke 6:41 (NIV):
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Somewhere along the line I figured that the plank mentioned in this verse could roughly equate to the ‘cross’ of the verse from Matthew. So I prayed that God would convict me (taking a leaf out of a friend’s recent journey with God) of whatever it was I was unable to see for myself, as for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything ‘that bad’ to warrant calling it a cross. Don’t get me wrong, I know what some of my faults and weaknesses are, but I was pretty sure this was all about something I was unaware of.
And sure enough…within two days I had my answer, and I was bowled over. I had been right in that there WAS something I was unaware of, or at least hadn’t previously spelled it out to myself in as many words. What freedom there is in identifying one’s planks! Now I pay more attention.